The 2020 general election is less than a year away and indications show Georgia will be a competitive state.

In a recent poll pitting President Trump against five would-be Democratic challengers, he trails each one. Joe Biden holds the largest margin of victory in the poll with an almost 9-percent advantage.

Bernie Sanders leads President Trump by almost 4 percent while Elizabeth Warren holds a 3.4-percent lead.

Pete Buttigieg leads by almost 3 percent in a one-on-one matchup with the president. The closest race shows Kamala Harris with a slim 1-percent lead against President Trump in the Georgia general election.

It’s interesting that only five of the Democratic candidates were included.

It’s too early to even begin forecasting who the Democratic nominee will be. Early on it was thought that Biden held a lead too great to overcome.

However, some Democratic voters have become cautious about having Biden as the nominee.

It’s also tough to say what is going on behind closed doors in Democratic Party circles. If voters were wise, they would nominate a new, young face.

Buttigieg was unknown nationally until recently but has the youthful energy to lead the party next November. He is also a veteran and no doubt would make health and mental care for veterans a priority. A recent poll now shows him leading in Iowa.

Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is also a new face on the national scene for Democrats and has drawn some bizarre criticism from Hillary Clinton. Gabbard, a current member of the military, has embraced the criticism and responded to it well.

A new wild card has also been thrown into the Democratic race as billionaire Michael Bloomberg is signing up for primaries in various states. By the time you read this, he is expected to officially announce his candidacy. Anyone who is a billionaire has to be dealt with by the others in the race.

Bloomberg is said to be completely financing his own campaign (similar to how President Trump did in 2016). While he will no doubt receive some small contributions, his self-financing does have one drawback. One of the criteria for making the Democratic presidential candidate debates is having a certain number of donors. Bloomberg may not have those numbers.

One report said Bloomberg is skipping the early contests (Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina) to focus on other primary dates where voters in several states will go to the polls. In addition, it is said that some of the later contests (California for example) will be target states for Bloomberg since so many delegates are at stake.

It is estimated by that point many candidates will be out of the race or either out of money. Bloomberg, meanwhile, would have the funds to be on the airwaves constantly in the later states.

LEAVING THE RACE

Since we last updated candidates leaving the presidential race, two more have closed up shop.

Beto O’Rourke exited the Democratic field while Mark Sanford ended his brief campaign in the Republican primary. O’Rourke made an initial splash in the crowded field but it is tough to break out in a field which had well more than 20 candidates at one time.

On one hand, I have always found it odd that presidential candidates leave the race before one vote has been cast. However, some political observers noted that candidates don’t want to earn only 1 or 2 percent in a caucus or primary.

Sanford, meanwhile, was facing even longer odds than O’Rourke mainly because many Republican Party leaders don’t want President Trump having any primary opposition. Sanford is a former governor of South Carolina, but even in that state GOP officials decided to cancel the primary.

Sanford was focusing on New Hampshire and planned to spend the next month campaigning there but he saw the writing on the wall and suspended his bid last week. In a national GOP poll, he was at 3 percent.

President Trump does still have two legitimate primary challengers in former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld (who was the Libertarian vice-presidential candidate in 2016) and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh.

Sanford said with so much attention on the impeachment hearings, it was not feasible to gain any kind of momentum in his campaign.

Winder resident Chris Bridges is a former editor of the Barrow News-Journal. He has earned awards for his columns from the National Newspaper Association, the Georgia Press Association and the Georgia Sports Writers Association. He welcomes feedback about this column at pchrisbridges@gmail.com.

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